Bertram Thomas dies in the same house in which he was born, and is buried with his mother and father in St George’s church, Pill, in south west England.
In the 1920s, the western world was obsessed with the romance and intrigue of Arabia. The exploits of T E Lawrence (of Arabia), put on a pedestal by US journalist Lowell Thomas, made the Empty Quarter a point of focus for adventurers and explorers. The race was on to become the first westerner to successfully cross this vast area of sand, and there were two people in that race; in Saudi Arabia, Philby, advisor to Ibn Saud, was busily making plans for his own attempt, but his hopes were dashed when in February 1931he received a telegram, from Bahrain, sent by Bertram Thomas. After a journey of sixty days, Thomas, guided by Omani Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut, had successfully reached the towers of Doha, and the Empty Quarter had been crossed.
Following his death, many of Thomas’s possessions, especially those relating to his expedition, were stored on permanent loan at the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. The images that follow are displayed with the permission of the Thomas family.